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calendar   Thursday - September 24, 2009

Buried Treasure

English Man Finds Massive Pre-Viking Treasure In Farm Field, Worth Millions



Largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure found in UK



A massive hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver found by a metal detector enthusiast is worth a “seven-figure sum”, an expert said today.

The haul of at least 1,345 items was officially declared to be treasure by a coroner this morning and will now be valued by a committee of experts.

Dr Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum, said: “I can’t say anything other than we expect it to be a seven-figure sum.”

The cache - the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold yet found - was hailed today as “a fantastically important discovery”.

The haul was found by metal detectorist Terry Herbert, 55, just below the surface of a cultivated field in south Staffordshire in July.

South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh said: “This is a magnificent find, both in terms of its content and its likely history.”

Dr Bland told the inquest in Cannock the significance of the find was “only beginning to dawn” on the small number of experts who have examined it.

He said: “It is at least as significant as any of the major discoveries of this period that have been made in the past.”



image

An Anglo Saxon cross, solid gold, one of the many priceless antiquities found



“It is assumed that the items were buried by their owners at a time of danger with the intention of later coming back and recovering them.”

Archaeologist Dr Kevin Leahy said none of the experts involved in the discovery had seen anything like it before.

He told a press conference at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery: “These are the best craftsmen the Anglo Saxons have got, working with the best materials, and producing incredible results.”

Ian Wykes, head of Staffordshire County Council’s historic environment team, said some of the objects - many of them related to warfare - were found lying on top of the soil.

Archaeologists were “fairly confident” there was no more treasure buried at the site, he added.

Dr Bland said the hoard - thought to date back to between 675 and 725AD - was unearthed in what was once the Kingdom of Mercia. [the English Midlands region]

“I think wealth of this kind must have belonged to a king but we cannot say that for absolute certain,” the expert said.

A total of 1,345 items have been examined by experts, although the list includes 56 clods of earth which have been X-rayed and are known to contain further metal artefacts, meaning the total number of items is likely to rise to around 1,500.

Experts have so far established that there are at least 650 items of gold in the haul, weighing more than 5kg (11lb), and 530 silver objects totalling more than 1kg (2.2lb) in weight.

“That in itself is an enormous quantity of precious metal,” Dr Bland said.

“It’s bigger than any other hoard of precious metal from the Anglo-Saxon period by quite a large margin.”

Dr Bland said the Staffordshire hoard was quite different from the Sutton Hoo burial site, which was uncovered in Suffolk in 1939.

Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum’s Department of Prehistory and Europe, said: “This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.

“(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.”

Mr Herbert, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, has described unearthing the haul as “more fun than winning the lottery”.

“My mates at the (metal detecting) club always say that if there is a gold coin in a field, I will be the one to find it. I dread to think what they’ll say when they hear about this,” he said.

Herbert, from the town of Burntwood, found the gold on a friend’s farm on July 5 and spent the next five days scouring the field for the rest of the hoard.

Herbert recovered the first items before professional archaeologists took over the excavation.

“Imagine you’re at home and somebody keeps putting money through your letterbox, that was what it was like,” Herbert said. “I was going to bed and in my sleep I was seeing gold items.”

Well there ya go. I’m sure Mr. Herbert is just as happy as can be. Good for him.

Anglo-Saxons were the people who took over Britain after the Romans left. [Angles were from northwest Germany, Saxons from the land just south of Denmark, and Jutes from Jutland, which is southern Denmark, just north of the Saxon lands. These folks also may have invented the Holstein cow, which is also from that area. Go back a few hundred years more, and I think they’d all be called Frisians.] Heck, they took over so well that they gave the place it’s name - “Angle Land”; England. And they’re also the people who put the “AS” in “WASP”: White Anglo Saxon Protestant. Ooooh, my ancestors!  Eventually they mostly lost out to the Normans (proto-froggies) in that little upheaval in 1066, but for a good 600 years they held sway, Vikings be damned. I don’t think they’ve got very good press before this, always being seen as some type of dirty semi-barbarians. Compared to the Celts, Picts, Norse, Franks, Goths, Visigoths, and all the other dirty barbarians of that time. But now they have been shown to have excellent metal working skills, and lots of gold and silver, so they’ll probably take a big step forward in the Dark Ages class system. All thanks to one old guy and his 14 year old metal detector.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/24/2009 at 12:57 PM   
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